glass enamels

Another Return to the Thames by Sasha Ward

Fanlights for two upstairs bathrooms

Fanlights for two upstairs bathrooms

This set of windows are for bathroom fanlights for the same house (as my last post) in Oxfordshire. The shape of the windows, the function of the rooms and the local landscape all led me to return to the River Thames for my subject matter. Although I had walked, photographed and drawn along the path of the river a couple of years ago, I hadn't found a good enough way to show the reeds along the river banks and the general stripiness of the flat landscape before. 

Fanlight one

Fanlight one

The photos of the windows installed, above and below, show the different colour of the light coming through windows and skylights in the bathrooms . The colours of the hand painted enamels are the same for each window, with the image of the blue river flowing to join the pictures together.

Fanlight two

Fanlight two

I spent a long time on the design for these windows, struggling with my riverbank drawings. The designs look very similar to the finished windows, as is shown in the photo of glass on top of the drawing below. Back in my studio the drawings are still on the wall, giving me ideas for the next piece of work.

Detail from window two: sample for window one on top of the sketch design.

Detail from window two: sample for window one on top of the sketch design.

A Sense Of Place by Sasha Ward

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Guess which town is the subject of this post. There may be clues on the sign (above) which greets you as you descend from the Old Town to the spreading acres of the new. Confused? Maybe the graphics don't help, I think there are some arrows missing as there is an outer and an inner ring linking the five mini roundabouts that make up Swindon's Magic Roundabout. 

In my depictions of places it is my long term practice to combine drawings and photos from viewpoints with maps and diagrams, it helps me find my "sense of place". Although I am often asked to research a particular place for a public commission, in this case I am investigating the magic roundabout, twelve miles from where I live, just for fun. 

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Nine drawings on thin paper (above) helped me work out what I needed to leave in and take out to make a satisfactory image that also explains the workings of a roundabout that is both logical and mysterious.

The first four glass roundabouts, sandblasting, enamels, oxides & silverstain on clear glass

The first four glass roundabouts, sandblasting, enamels, oxides & silverstain on clear glass

 Magic Roundabout number five, image size 100mm square.

 Magic Roundabout number five, image size 100mm square.

Going smaller for Magic Roundabout number six, image size 75mm square.

Going smaller for Magic Roundabout number six, image size 75mm square.

P.S. I hope I haven't overthought this one - I've never worried about navigating it before, let's see what happens when we get there for an evening out in Swindon tonight.

Enclosures by Sasha Ward

Holy City  St. George's, Hanover Square, London:  Old Town my panel from 1985:  Kelmscott Design No. 1  from 2014

Enclosures have turned out to be a major subject matter for me. I am drawn to walled cities, or really representations of walled cities, like the stained glass one I photographed recently (see last blog entry). I found a small glass panel called "Old Town" that I made in 1985 and a glass painting based on Kelmscott Manor in its walls garden from two years ago - these three images, lined up above, have obvious links. 

On my last visit to The National Gallery I was captivated by a large Velasquez painting, an enclosure but just of a piece of ground, no buildings. I realised that it was the actual enclosure that interests me, not only the way that it organises a picture but also what meanings it could have.

"Philip IV Hunting Wild Boar" 1632-7 Diego Velasquez 

"Philip IV Hunting Wild Boar" 1632-7 Diego Velasquez 

In my current work, I have been designing a long thin window which happens to have a series of linked enclosures. I like them to have open points so you can get in and out. I also like them to have straight sides - an oval or a circle makes you feel trapped like the wild boars above. The enclosures in this design are bordered by flower beds rather than walls. They started by containing a string of plums, this went as the design progressed but came back again in the final glass panel. 

Garden Plums, sketches showing development of the design

Finished window in my studio, 300 x 1300 mm. 

Finished window in my studio, 300 x 1300 mm. 

Garden Plums  detail: gold and pale green enamel, the textures and colours look great.

Garden Plums detail: gold and pale green enamel, the textures and colours look great.

The window is on its way to Poland, the third one for the house of my friend & glass artist Frances Federer. Read her entertaining, informative blog about her journeys between England & Poland here

Glass Enamel Samples by Sasha Ward

Enamels in the studio

Enamels in the studio

Since I started using glass enamels in 1984 (date verified by original Blythe pot above) I have sampled the products of most enamel suppliers. I have just tried out some ancient looking envelopes of Reusche enamels, very fine but expensive, given to me by a colleague. I save my old enamels for small projects as many of them are now unobtainable because of the elements, including lead, that they contain.  In my favourite range I have completely used up some colours - my best ever test strips are on the windowsill below right, next to the new Reusche samples. 

Colour samples in my studio window                                                    Best ever enamel test strips & recent (smaller) Reusche strips

Colour samples in my studio window                                                    Best ever enamel test strips & recent (smaller) Reusche strips

The test pieces, which I sometimes vary by using dots or another layer of colour going the other way, look great in the studio windows but because they are usually on 6mm (thick) glass, it is hard to use them in stained glass commissions. They have recently been sorted or chucked during the great studio clear out. For our new shed door (below left) I used fifteen sample panels of the mostly brown enamels from a job shown in the photo at top right - complete with notes on colour mixes scratched through the paint. For one of my first ever stained glass commissions (below right) I made fake sample strips, this time texture added with acid etched stripes, an even more deadly substance that I no longer use.

Our shed door, 2014                                                                   Detail from front door commission, 1988

Our shed door, 2014                                                                   Detail from front door commission, 1988